My husband, and I, seniors, have been living common-law, on and off for 25-plus years, after unhappy first marriages. Three years ago, we finally agreed that we are a couple.
However, I have money, he doesn't. Most of our expenses are paid by me.
I’ve agreed to joint ownership of our home which I paid for, because he’s done a lot of renovation and maintenance.
But he wants ALL our assets in both names, to be inherited equally by our four children (two each). I said that this doesn’t seem fair, explaining that his kids inherit the house from him if I die first.
If he dies first, my will states that they still get his half. This wasn’t enough so he’s stopped speaking to me, for over two months.
I’ve either hurt his feelings, his ego, or he’s just realized he
has very little to leave his kids.
I felt like I was being blackmailed. Now I’m angry, hurt and sitting on the fence.
I enjoy his company. We generally do well together. If he can reconcile himself to my position, good. If not, I’ll enter a new phase of my life, though I may be significantly poorer. He’s 81, I’m 76. Am I out of line?
Money has many ways of being a deal-breaker.
Twenty-five years was a long time for him to build expectations while you both avoided this conversation.
In many jurisdictions, common-law status would already decree that you have equal rights to shared assets e.g. the house, unless he’d signed a cohabitation agreement that it was solely yours.
Now, you’re at ages where the decisions matter a lot.
Creating joint ownership was a logical decision. His two children have long been part of your “family.”
For decisions about your other assets, you need legal and financial advice. You also need to think deeply about your relationship.
Consider: Can you leave your own adult children a meaningful inheritance by assigning a good share but not all of your assets to them? (Perhaps assign them any that came to you through
If you’d be happier continuing to live with this man into your older (and possibly frailer) years, can you find some other bequests for his adult children?
If the amount he leaves his children does appear miniscule, can you add a gift based on your long association with them?
Since he’s surprised and hurt that you aren’t leaving them an equal share, it’d be wise to invite him to the meeting you have with a financial advisor, once you’ve found certainty about what you wish/intend to do.
FEEDBACK Regarding the woman, 39, looking at her second divorce (February 20):
Reader – “I applaud her. I stayed 15 and 18 years with my exes, had three children with the first one. She got out way sooner than I did.
“Being divorced twice is tough, people do judge, but I’m very successful in my career and now married to a wonderful man.
“My first husband also expected me to serve him in every way with no help with children and household. The second was the same but pretended to be a better person to get me hooked. His cheating began when I started working full-time.
“I’ve learned from research that they both exhibited narcissistic behaviour. In my growing-up years, that was the “normal” I saw, so red flags were dismissed/unnoticed.
“I’m glad you suggested she look at her early years.”
FEEDBACK Regarding the man who thought he’d found “the One” but when they visited his friends, she hardly spoke the whole time, which turned him off (February 20):
Reader – “A similar situation happened to me many years ago... I’d been dating this man and during the early relationship we went over to visit his friends.
“These three people had known each other for years and chatted with each other about people I hadn’t yet met, which was very boring for me.
“So, after about an hour of this, I spied a magazine on the couch, picked it up and started reading it. Of course, it was rude of me, but I felt it was very rude of them not to chat about things
we could all have a say in.
“Riding home, my date asked why I started reading the magazine and I told him.
“We didn’t end up together.”
Tip of the day:
Since money can be a harsh deal-breaker, discuss issues like wills well ahead, especially where children are from previous marriages.